What are you, my twin?
You touch me like you are my twin.
What are you, my God?
You affect me like you are my God.

Aaron is a lot smarter than other people give him credit for. He knows that his music is stupid, little kid bullshit written by old men to make little girls cream their white satin panties. He knows that a fifteen-year-old kid should not be shirtless in front of hundreds, thousands of people. He knows that he’s extremely fucked up already, and that there’s probably no real way to unfuck him, even if he quit the business now and started therapy immediately.

He knows that you’re not supposed to kiss your brother a certain way, and you’re not supposed to fuck your brother, and you’re not supposed to fall in love with your brother.

He also knows that things don’t always go the way that they’re supposed to. After all, if he had gone along the normal path of life, he would be in school with people his own age right now; he would never have seen anyone dead of an overdose, coke still caked white around their nostrils; he wouldn’t have lost his virginity at 13 to someone well over the age of 35. Aaron’s life is not normal, and he’s smart enough to fucking know that, no matter what he says in interviews.

He knows that interviews and magazine articles do not reflect real life, because people don’t like to hear the truth.

So Aaron plays dumb in interviews, and pretends to be comfortable and well adjusted and happy and shy and confident. And innocent, not at all jaded. People might think Nick is dumb, but he’s the one who taught Aaron that word, because it was something Aaron needed to know. What he is, how to label himself before someone else could.

In interviews, Aaron pretends that he doesn’t even know what jaded means, and that Nick is someone who only teaches him things about the business and girls and sailing.

People think Nick is dumb, but that’s because Nick was just taught the wrong things, or not taught the things he was supposed to know at all. You can’t school someone on a bus or over the phone, on a different continent, and expect them to get dictionary definitions right. Nick is smart, really, just in different ways that most people.

Nick is the innocent one, though; or at the very least, less jaded than Aaron. Nick had brothers around him to make sure that he didn’t get too fucked up in his youth—they couldn’t stop it completely, of course, but they could slow it down, reroute it like the car crash that it was. Aaron had his brother around, too, but not enough. Their lives went in two different directions. The car crashed. Nick couldn’t do anything but watch the flames and try to fix the damage.

That is how it started, after all, with Aaron being wounded and Nicky trying to bandage up the scrapes and the cuts and the bruises. The wounds being purely metaphorical, mostly, but Nick still trying to baby Aaron with soup and blankets and a shoulder to cry on, when all Aaron really wanted was someone who didn’t treat him like a child or an idiot, someone who would touch him who also loved him, who didn’t just see him as skin, something to sell, like all those record exec fucks.

So Aaron kissed him, and fucked him, and fell in love with him. And Nick kissed him back, and made love to him with gentle hands, and cried in the bathroom at night when he thought Aaron was sleeping, because he thought he was corrupting something innocent, even as he called him jaded with a crooked smile.

Eventually Nick got over it, and just kissed him without crying, and touched him with gentle hands, and accepted that this was what Aaron wanted, what made Aaron happy. Nick is so innocent that he actually believes that happiness is all that matters, and that love is all you need, just like the Beatles song says. Its kind of beautiful, actually, that sort of belief.

Aaron kind of regrets the way that it happened—fucking, and then falling in love. He’s smart enough to know that that’s not the way it’s supposed to go, either. He’s getting sort of used to doing everything backwards, or just the wrong way altogether, like he lives in a mirror world of reality. He also knows that Nick loved him before they fucked, before they’d even kissed. Had probably been in love with him, because Nick doesn’t really know how to differentiate loving someone and being in love with them; part and parcel of being a Backstreet Boy.

The point is, they love each other. And even though Aaron knows its wrong, he knows also that there’s no way to stop loving, to press a button somewhere and say pause, quit, I’m stopping now.

He also knows that somehow, he has to stop. Because Nick may be older, and in some ways wiser, but he’s the innocent one. He’s the one who doesn’t know that love can be wrong but still beautiful and needed; doesn’t know that some people have to destroy other people’s happiness just because it doesn’t fall into line with their moral code.

Mom saw them together.

It was early morning, and they were at home, and they had fallen asleep together on Nick’s bed. Aaron woke up first, stretched and smiled in the sunlight and just…looked at Nick. Just looked at him. Looked at the familiar angles of his face and wondered how he could love someone that was at once so like himself, and yet so very different.

They weren’t even naked. Aaron was on top of the covers, and Nick was beneath them, and there was a good six inches in between them of blanket and pillow and bed frame. Somehow, though, Mom looked into that space and saw something. Maybe not exactly what was actually there, but something.

She didn’t go to Nick about it. If there’s one thing Mom knows, it’s her kids—she’s made a business of it, after all. And she knows that Aaron is the one who calls the shots, that Nick is the one who would do anything for Aaron. Even this, even anything, even everything.

Of course, being Mom, she didn’t really come out and say what she meant. That would mean admitting that there was something wrong with her perfect boys and her perfect family and her perfect mothering skills. But she knew, and when she talked to Aaron he knew exactly what she was saying, even through all the Jane Carter bullshit code.

Not that she’d ever say anything about it to the press until Aaron was 18 and not making money for her anymore, of course. But 18 isn’t all that far away, really, even if it feels like an eternity sometimes. And even if most people would think that Mom’s little dropped hints of something unhealthy about her boys’ relationship were just the rantings of a stage mother denied her cash cow, some people would actually believe her, because there are always people willing to believe the truth.

Both would be the truth. Are the truth, in a way. Interesting, that those two separate truths actually exist in the same space, the same universe.

It’s okay, though. Aaron is smart and capable and just innocent enough to let go. To tell Nick that no, they have to stop, because this is beautiful but its wrong, and Aaron doesn’t need it anymore, not like he used to. And Nick will believe him, because he doesn’t think Aaron would ever lie to him, and he’ll stop because he’s always loved Aaron in one way or another, and to him it doesn’t really matter which way. Loving Aaron and being in love with Aaron are the same thing, and fucking Aaron was just a way of proving that he loved him.

Someday, Nick will love someone else.

Aaron, though, has never been in love before. Has never had someone touch him with gentle hands and love him unconditionally, love him first and his skin second. Angel may be his twin, the other half of his egg, but Nick is his other half. The one who understands, the one who see his wounds and says, yes, I used to have those; do you want to see the scars? The one reassures him that one day he will heal.

It’s okay though. Aaron is 15, and young, and old, and he will grow up one day. One day he will touch someone who looks nothing like Nick, and not remember the feel of calloused hands on his skin, and the taste of ink tattooed into skin. He will not do things the wrong way.

Someday he will be able to look into Nick’s eyes without seeing himself there, and hear Nick’s name without flinching. But not right now.

Soon I’ll grow up and I won't even flinch at your name…
Soon I'll grow up and I won't even flinch at your name.


Lyrics from ‘Flinch’ by Alanis Morisette.